Women lawyers, have you struggled to find a fashionable, yet professional, bag to bring to the office? Are you worried that your colleagues won’t take you seriously if your bag is too “cute”? Worse yet, have you finally managed to find a fashionable bag that’s professional enough for the office, but later discovered that it simply won’t hold your files? If any of these situations have happened to you, please take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.
Speaking as a legal fashionista, I know that it’s possible to be professional and tasteful while still expressing a degree of individuality. That is what fashion is supposed to be all about—and whether you’d like to look cute, elegant, or trendy, there are ways to accomplish each fashion goal without going overboard.
Is My Bag Too “Cute” for the Office?
Some believe that women lawyers who wear fashionable bags will jeopardize their credibility in the legal profession. On the other hand, there are those who believe that women lawyers who exhibit a sense of personal style will be able to boost their colleagues’ confidence in their skills and abilities. I believe that both camps may be partially correct, because like it or not, the way that you dress, including the accessories that you wear, affects how others view you in the professional world. In order to gain some additional perspective on this issue, I decided to speak with two well-known women lawyers.
First, I spoke with Nancy Cremins, a business litigator for the law firm of Gesmer Updegrove. While Nancy doesn’t believe that wearing a “cute” and fashionable bag will impact your colleagues’ thoughts on your professionalism, she did mention something of note:
In my experience, it is mostly only women that notice bags. A bag can serve as a status symbol, and if you can afford a nice (read, expensive) one, then you portray an image of financial success. Unless your bag is very flashy, it will likely go unnoticed by your colleagues.
Next, I spoke with Kat Griffin, the founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief of Corporette, a leading fashion and lifestyle blog for professional women. Kat, also a lawyer, sits on the opposite side of the fence on this issue, stating that:
I think the fact is that women have to put SOMETHING on when they get up in the morning, whether it’s cute or not. Similarly, they have to carry their papers in something. And the sad fact is that what you end up wearing and carrying — they ALL reflect on your professionalism. If it’s dowdy and frumpy, you look out of touch with the modern world. If it’s too sexy or feminine, it may suggest that you’re dressing for your social life rather than your working life.
Although Nancy and Kat didn’t seem to agree on the professionalism issue, these two inspirational women lawyers did agree on something. Kat noted that “finding clothes and accessories that walk the middle of the line can actually take a bit of time and energy for working women, whether they end up looking ‘cute’ or not.” Nancy, too, was frustrated by the fact that it’s often “hard to find functional bags that are feminine.”
Staci’s Stylish Suggestions
Nancy and Kat are both correct: for women lawyers, it can be extremely time-consuming and difficult to find a fashionable bag that’s appropriate for the office. When we add femininity and functionality to the list, it becomes even harder to find a suitable bag. Luckily, I have some suggestions for you.
- Are you tired of toting your files around in a masculine-looking briefcase? Featured in Ladies’ Home Journal and Woman’s Day Magazine, the LifeSTYLE File Tote seems to be the perfect blend of fashion and functionality for women lawyers. Available in an array of vibrant colors, the File Tote is both sleek and sophisticated.
- Now this is a briefcase that I’d love to get my hands on. Made from Italian leather, this fashionable Jack Georges tote can hold not only your laptop, but also your files. The Business Case comes with a detachable shoulder strap, and is available in nine gorgeous colors.
- Available in brown, pink, or green, Mobile Edge has created a cute bag that will hold your laptop and your files. Not only is the ScanFast TSA compliant, but it also has a wireless security shield that will protect your important client data. This dainty briefcase is not only easy on the eyes, but on the wallet, too.
In my opinion, all three bag choices are fun, fashionable, and functional. Please feel free to discuss them in the comments section. I will continue to remain on the prowl for the next great thing in terms of fashionable, professional bags in the hopes that I can pass along my greatest finds to you, the readers.
Advice from the Legal Couturier
So I ask you now, women lawyers, have you seen a great piece of fashion that you’d like to recommend to others? Do you have any questions about fashion for lawyers that you’d like to see addressed in a public forum? Get in touch with me on Twitter @stacizaretsky and reference “Dress for Success” with your questions, comments, and recommendations.